Screen Sharing 101: Share What’s On Your Desktop Using Native Windows Tools

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Although you might be the only person physically in front of your screen, that doesn’t mean the view on your monitor has to be limited to yourself. A number of great native Windows tools allow you to share what you see.

This guide will explain how you can share exactly what’s on your screen. The time to show off your monitor may come if you’re giving or receiving technical support, want to perform a demonstration, or want a record of how something appeared – and a whole host of other reasons!

Let’s get down and find out how to screenshot, screencast and screenshare, all without having to download any extra applications.

The Basics Of Screenshots

Look down at your keyboard and try and figure out which key will capture exactly what’s on your screen. Okay, so you probably already knew the answer without looking: Print Screen.

Back when operating systems worked on command lines, the Print Screen key would literally send the text on the screen to the printer. Nowadays the capture is saved to your clipboard Hold That Thought: 5 Reasons You Need A Clipboard Manager Hold That Thought: 5 Reasons You Need A Clipboard Manager When you think about it, copy paste is kind of weird. You copy stuff, but there's no way to see it. And if you copy over what you had, it's gone – forever. Read More (the same way that text is when you press Copy), meaning that it can be pasted directly into programs like Photoshop, Word and Skype.


This is truly the most basic method of sharing your desktop remotely, but for some it might be all that’s needed. These screenshots can then be edited further in an image editing program 10 Free Photo Editor Tools To Make The Most Of Your Shots 10 Free Photo Editor Tools To Make The Most Of Your Shots Whatever happened to all the snapshots you've taken in the past? If you've got plans and ideas, here are some great Windows and some cross platform tools to process them with. Read More , allowing for things like cropping or highlighting.

It’s possible to get a bit more advanced, however. Pressing Alt + Print Screen will only capture the active window, while pressing Win + Print Screen on Windows 8 will save the image to your drive.

How To Take Better Screenshots

There might be a time where you want to go a bit further than what those keyboard commands offer. This is where a Windows utility called Snipping Tool 8 Hidden Tools In Windows 7 You Still Might Not Know About 8 Hidden Tools In Windows 7 You Still Might Not Know About Windows 7 is by no means a new operating system. This why I was doubly surprised to realize that there are still some hidden tools in Windows 7 I did not know about. Even if... Read More comes in handy. This is an application that will capture, edit and save your screenshot all in one How To Take Awesome Screenshots In Windows 7 How To Take Awesome Screenshots In Windows 7 In principle, taking a screenshot is very simple. With the right technique however, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle and greatly improve the look of your screenshots. In this article I... Read More .

Snipping Tool is on Windows Vista and above. It allows you to capture specific areas of your screen and then instantly annotate the screenshot with pens and highlighters. These screenshots can then be copied to the clipboard, saved, and emailed, all within the program.


It’s still a fairly basic tool in the scheme of things, but it speeds up the process of screenshotting when only certain areas of the display need to be captured. Not only that, but less proficient users may find it easier than editing in tools like Photoshop Photoshop CS6: Your Ultimate Overview Photoshop CS6: Your Ultimate Overview Whether you're looking to get the most out of your copy of CS6 or wondering whether it's worth the upgrade, this ultimate outline will teach you all of the tricks and tools. Read More or the user-friendly Paint.NET Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download We all edit images to some degree. Whether it’s a simple crop or resize, or maybe just adding some text, it’s nice to have an image editor that is reliable, fast, easy to navigate and... Read More .

Problem Steps Recorder

For Windows 7 and 8 users, this one is going to be a lifesaver when you have to talk others through procedures on the computer.

Perform a system search for psr and click the result. This will launch the Problem Steps Recorder. Hit Start Record and then go about demonstrating. The program will track everything, like things you click or highlight, and will also let you add comments to certain parts of the screen.

Once done, click Stop Record and save the file. It’ll output a ZIP file What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More What’s The Best File Compression Method? MakeUseOf Tests Zip, RAR & More File compression is an important and common task users frequently ask of their computers. Reducing a file’s size makes it easier to email or place on a flash drive. It also reduces bandwidth usage and... Read More which contains a MHT file of your steps. It isn’t a video, but rather a page containing commented screenshots of every action that you perform. This is especially useful for technical support teams as it allows them to see literally everything that you did, without you having to explain it all in detail.

Screen Sharing 101: Share What's On Your Desktop Using Native Windows Tools 2011 10 09 15h04 53

The Problem Steps Recorder could also come in handy for those of you who are the go-to technical help for family and friends. Rather than having to explain a complicated procedure you can use this tool and let them follow the guide.

Although this guide is for native Windows tools, those using Windows XP and Windows Vista and looking for a similar tool can use Utility Spotlight from TechNet.

Windows Remote Assistance

We’ve covered static images of your screen, but what about if you want to share what you see in real time? That’s no problem as a tool called Windows Remote Assistance (system search for the name to run it) has got you covered. It’s been around in some form since Windows XP. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the same as a remote access utility How to Use Remote Access Efficiently, Safely & Securely How to Use Remote Access Efficiently, Safely & Securely Read More .

When launched, the program will ask if you want to invite someone to help you or help someone who has invited you. If you’re the former then you can either send an invitation file via email or use Easy Connect, wherein the receiving user types in a code to connect to your computer.

Screen Sharing 101: Share What's On Your Desktop Using Native Windows Tools 2011 10 09 14h40 05

Windows Remote Assistance will share the screen of the user who is asking for help. The person connected is able to use their mouse and keyboard to control this other machine, if necessary. For example, the sharer could demonstrate an issue they’re having and the helper can then show them how to overcome it.

There’s a built-in text chat system and a log of the session can be saved if it has to be referred to at a later point. It’s a simple and quick way of helping someone without the need to be physically present at their computer.

It’s Time To Share

You now know some of the best ways to get sharing your screen using native Windows applications. Whether you just need to send off a quick screenshot, document procedures in detail or share a live view of your screen, these powerful and easy-to-use applications require no third party software.

While there are other programs available to capture screenshots 4 Best Tools For Creating Screenshots Compared 4 Best Tools For Creating Screenshots Compared CTRL + SHIFT + 4. Three keys - that's all you need for perfect screenshots. It doesn't need to be a hassle! Try these advanced screen capturing tools and you won't ever look back. Read More and the like, the chances are that the ones that come with your operating system will do the job just fine.

Have you found the Windows screen sharing utilities useful? Or which alternatives do you prefer?

Image Credits: Print Screen by john_hall_associates, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Explore more about: Screen Capture, Screencast.

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  1. Jói Sigurdsson
    May 17, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Sometimes it's a lot easier to simply show the other person how to solve a problem, rather than solving it for them. Much likelier that they will remember how to solve it next time. For this, a solution like CrankWheel ( is ideal, it has a generous free plan as well as enterprise features available if you need it for work.

  2. carstorm
    December 1, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I use TeamViewer also. I like that it is cross platform including Linux and Mobile. It also has built in file sharing and the ability to hear the sounds that they hear on their computer!

  3. Inpersona64
    November 18, 2014 at 4:29 am

    Teamspeak is hands-down the best screen sharing program I've ever used.

    • Joe
      November 30, 2014 at 12:16 am

      What makes Teamspeak stand out to you over the inbuilt Windows tools?

  4. da
    November 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    When taking screenshots of a web page I use Firefox built in tool. Shift + F2 and type screenshot.

    • Joe
      November 18, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Brilliant! Thanks for sharing such a cool tip. I never knew that was possible in Firefox.